The Power of Social Media in Building an Audience

Yesterday when I opened my iGoogle page, “today’s spotlight video” looked something like this.

Because I love both soul and gospel music, I clicked on it–and became an instant fan of an unknown singer who doesn’t even have an album out yet. (LaTosha Brown. Check her out. Fabulous!)

As LaTosha tells it, as of the day-before-yesterday, her video had been viewed 310 times. Today, that number is 496,642–an instant fan base! Her record company, PortoFranco Records, is scrambling to get this cut on iTunes so some of those fans can actually buy the single.

Kindle Singles Books are not as accessible as music in this way, but there’s cause to believe that short pieces, priced low and marketed through social media, could become for authors what this single song is for a talented, upcoming musician: a way to develop an instant audience for their work.

Earlier this year, Amazon launched Kindle Singles, a division that is actively seeking articles, essays and stories of 5,000 to 30,000 words. These pieces, which are being reviewed and quality-controlled by editor David Blum, are being priced between $.99 and $4.99–impulse buyers’ pricepoints. Publishers Weekly recently reported that six of the 75+ published works on this platform have already reached bestseller status among all Kindle books.

Kindle Singles has terrific potential. It provides a new platform for long-form journalism and could revive the world of short stories. And most importantly, it could build audiences for those emerging voices who have been abandoned by traditional publishers.

IDEO Imagines the Future of Books

When I was Director of Stanford Publishing Courses, I often tried to arrange visits to IDEO–the brilliant, Palo Alto-based design firm that was spun off from the work of Stanford professor David Kelley. IDEO uses design thinking to innovate–and is surely one of the top creative firms in the country.

Here IDEO takes on the future of books–three ideas worth a look:

The Future of the Book. from IDEO on Vimeo.

Book Trailers vs. Audio Interviews

book trailer I’ve yet to see a book trailer that makes me want to buy a book. I know they’re all the rage right now, but because they’re made by wordsmiths and not by filmmakers, they often look embarrassingly amateurish–especially when they promote novels.

Book people need to use ideas and words–the tools they know best–to promote their books. A good author interview–which can be distributed as an audiofile or a podcast–is a better sales tool all around.

Check it out for yourself:     Book trailers vs. Author interviews

New Media Tracker

Book being paged throughWhen we look back at this time in history, we will surely mark it as the beginning of the Creator Economy.

This decade–this year–will mark the point at which media tools become robust enough in the hands of writers, video producers, film makers, photographers and other artists to shift the power from publisher to creator.

An author no longer needs the structure of the publishing industry to get his work noticed. He can create his book with online tools and use print-on-demand services to produce a small number of copies, mitigating the risk of financial failure. She can market his book through the 24/7 storefront that is a Website and distribute it through Amazon.    And he can gather a significant audience for his ideas via powerful social networks such as Facebook or Twitter or Ning or Zazzle or LinkedIn or Plaxo.

The only thing she cannot do is edit her own work, and for that there will spring up a phalanx of freelance editors to help her see what she cannot see himself.

How will traditional publishers fare in this new economy? Not well. Change is the only way forward.